Acts and the Old Testament

If you are keeping up with the study plan laid out in this series, then you already have an awesome study tool for the book of Acts.  You have an outline, a one sentence summary for your outline, and a one sentence summary of each chapter in Acts.  Way to go!  If you are not quite there yet, keep working at it – you will be glad you did.

Even though Pastor Viars often jokes about short sermons, the reality is that he does not have time to cover everything in the text.  One of the things that is most often cut from sermons is the way the text uses Old Testament quotations.  Admittedly, the use of the Old Testament (OT) in the New Testament (NT) is one of the most complicated parts of Bible study.

In Acts, we have seen the OT quoted many times in the first 4 chapters.  Here is the basic list:

Acts 1:20 Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8
Acts 2:17-21 Joel 2:28-32
Acts 2:25-28 Psalm 16:8-11
Acts 2:30 Psalm 132:11
Acts 2:31 Psalm 16
Acts 2:34-35 Psalm 110:1
Acts 3:22 Deut 18:15-20
Acts 3:25 Gen 12:3, Gen 18:18, Gen 22:18
Acts 4:11 Psalm 118:22
Acts 4:24 Psalm 146:6
Acts 4:25-26 Psalm 2:1-1

Now the question becomes: how does Acts use the OT?  While this can be a very complicated question, let me start off with two of the simplest uses:

The NT uses the OT to teach

The quotation found in Acts 2:34-35 (from Psalm 110) is used by Peter in his sermon to prove something.  He is saying to the crowd, “Look, if you had read your Bible correctly, then you would have understood who Jesus was.”  Jesus truly was greater than David (Psalm 110) even though the people had rejected Jesus as a possible Messiah not more than a couple months before this sermon.  Peter is explaining that the OT taught something that directly relates to the current situation.

This use is found often in the Bible.  It is one of the ways that the Bible shows continuity between the testaments.  This use is also the proper explanation of Acts 3:25’s use of the promise to Abraham, given in Genesis 12:3, 18:18, and 22:18.

The NT uses an OT text to show an analogy between two things

We find this in Acts 1:20’s use of both Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8.  Both Psalms are prayers of imprecation (judgment).  The Psalmist is asking that God would return wickedness on an individual or group because the individual or group is wicked.  This is lex talionis (law of retaliation/eye for an eye) if you will.

Luke uses both Psalms to explain the situation with Judas.  Just as people in the OT had asked that God vindicate the innocent by judging the wicked, so now Judas himself (along with his field) has become like the wicked in the days of the Psalms.  In other words, Psalms 69 and 109 do not prophesy this, nor do they teach that every wicked person buys a field and then dies in it.  Rather, it is an analogy between Judas and the wicked of those two Psalms.

There are other uses of the OT by the new, but that is enough to get us started.  Let me encourage you to look for the ways that Acts uses the OT as you are doing your personal study time in the word…it would be a great way to prepare for Pastor Viars’ teaching on Sundays. And if you want to refer back to any previous sermon notes, videos, etc., you can do so in our resource library.

We hope to see you Sunday and please bring a friend with you.

Rob Green
Pastor Rob Green oversees Faith Biblical Counseling Ministries. A seasoned counselor, Rob also teaches others how to counsel--through FBCM's training conferences and Faith Bible Seminary's MABC program.